You Keep Your Resolutions?
Every new calendar year, an old friend of mine
would always make two long lists. One will enumerate his weaknesses and
shortcomings that he would love to overcome in the year ahead, and the
other will enumerate the things he would love to achieve in the same year.
I found this very impressive going by the fact that my friend always dug
very deep into himself to bring those issues to the surface, especially
his weaknesses. My friend would go about his self-searching experiment
with such honesty and zeal that I was always convinced to do a little more
self-searching of myself regardless of how much I thought I had done
You could say that my friend was a very inspiring resolution-list-maker to
me. The seeming unfortunate thing was that my friend seemed to come up
with almost the same items and even more on his list every New Year. His
lists always grew longer. Why? He would usually forget to keep his
resolutions before we even got to the third month of the year, and he
would have more issues to deal with as the year ended. Sounds familiar?
Well, I know my friend is not alone on that.
It is my understanding that it is always constructive to reflect on life
and evaluate oneself on how far one has made it in this journey of life.
No one is a better judge of oneself than one’s own self. One can lie to
others, display false impressions, or pretend to be what one is not, but
one cannot hide from oneself no matter how one tries.
The Webster dictionary defines ‘resolution’ as “the act of
determining.” This calls to mind the importance of determination and
courage whether it is in the current affairs of one’s daily life, the
improvement of oneself, or the attainment of a proposed goal. It is
essential in the drive for progress and perfection. Contrary to some
opinions, my understanding is that no one on earth is perfect. There is
always room for improvement. Socrates said, “I know nothing but the fact
of my ignorance.” Such humble virtue of accepting the fact that there is
still some more knowledge that one needs to know or learn remains an open
secret key to wisdom and progress.
I respected my friend’s wisdom in accepting his faults and being able to
identify them, and then making an effort to improve on them regardless of
the fact that he never seemed to make much progress in keeping those
resolutions. Recognition of one’s weakness is the most essential step
towards overcoming such weakness, just as the identification (diagnosis)
of an ailment is always essential to the curing of the ailment. My friend
and I parted ways for a few years, but when we met again, his lists have
been considerably shortened. “What happened? Are you no longer bold
enough to bring your weaknesses to the surface?” I asked my friend. His
answer was encouraging. “After many years of trial and error, I was able
to conquer my old habits and improve myself. I was able to attain a couple
of my goals. Perseverance man!” my friend concluded as he softly punched
me on the chest. I could see the light in his eyes. He has made tremendous
progress with himself.
My friend has taught me that, the shame of having failed before or the
fear of failing again, should not discourage one from starting all over
and trying again, so long as one makes a genuine effort not to repeat the
same mistakes over and again. It does require courage, character, and
discipline. The masters have said that “there is nothing wrong in making
a mistake, but there is something wrong in repeating the same mistake over
and over again.” Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins
with one step.”
My friend later told me that he tried starting from the little things he
could improve and then he realized that he could overcome those ones he
thought were gigantic feats. He also stated that he did not limit his
resolutions to new-years only. There are many events in life that one
could use. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, new jobs, and new
relationships could be more useful than just being times of mere
celebrations and extravagant merriment.
Best wishes in the year ahead and good luck with your resolutions.
A TIME TO RESOLVE
And so the year begins afresh,
Or is it the beginning so indeed?
By Caesar’s calendar yes we mean,
Around the globe of this existence,
It is New Year, a time to resolve.
And many friends or folks we know,
Resolve to start or end a practice,
To end a habit or some trait before,
To end a weakness or some olden fault,
Or to start a virtue or something new.
And we have heard as we have seen,
Many resolutions come and go,
Great ones and weak ones all alike,
Made and broken before they began,
Or in some cases honored to the end.
My gladness lies in the will to resolve,
And though we may fail along the line,
We still shall stand to start afresh,
Though we need not wait for the year,
But other events, birthdays, and more.
O. Mbamara, February, 2003
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Oliver Mbamara is an Administrative Law Judge
with the State of New York. He is also a filmmaker and a Published Poet
and playwright. For more on Oliver, please visit www.olivermbamara.com
background/research reference on this piece, click on this link
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